As a runner, you are probably used to some muscle soreness now and then, especially after a hard workout. But when your Achilles tendon starts hurting, this is different. Tendon pain usually indicates the beginning stages of an injury. Push through it, and you may end up with a serious case of tendinitis. Act at the first sign of pain, on the other hand, and you could be back to running, pain-free, in a week or two.
Here's what to do when you notice mild Achilles pain as a runner.
Fight the temptation to run through the injury. You're better off missing a few days of training than running on an injured tendon and having to sit on the sidelines the rest of the season. Take three or four days off, and then, if you are pain-free, try running. Only take a short jog to see if the pain has passed. If you are still in pain, put off running until you no longer feel any pain. And even then, ease back into it. Do a few easy runs before tackling any real workouts.
Icing the tendon three or four times a day, for about 20 minutes each, will help bring down the inflammation and speed up the healing process. If you have a hard time icing the Achilles tendon, you can just dunk your whole foot in a bucket of cold water.
Massaging your tendon will help increase the blood flow to the area, which will help it heal. Use your thumb and your forefinger to grasp the tendon and rub in circles, on either side of it. You can do this for a few minutes whenever you're watching TV or sitting at your desk.
Check Out Your Shoes
Often, when runners begin developing Achilles tendon issues, it's because they are wearing shoes that no longer fit well or that have become too compressed. If your current shoes have more than 300 miles on them, it's time for a new pair. Consider visiting a running store and having your stride evaluated to see if perhaps there is another pair of shoes that would fit you better.
Keep in mind that these instructions are for treating mild Achilles tendinitis. If your injury persists in spite of this treatment, or if the pain is more than a mild ache, see a sports injury podiatrist for treatment. They can recommend specific exercises and shoe inserts to get you back on track faster!